The announcement this week that the Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk, had secured the funding to buy Twitter sent shockwaves across the internet. Rightwing free speech absolutists celebrated the acquisition, while many on the left sounded alarm bells about the implications of one wealthy man taking control of such an influential communication platform.

The Guardian’s UK technology editor, Alex Hern, tells Michael Safi that Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is a classic case of a billionaire splurging on a hobby. Musk is a frequent – and remarkably crass – Twitter user, and someone who has repeatedly floated ideas for improving the site. Once he takes over, Musk says he’ll strip away some of Twitter’s posting restrictions, remove bots, and introduce an edit button. But under the terms of his acquisition, he’ll also have to figure out how to make the company swiftly increase its profits.

Elon Musk checking his phone during a SpaceX news conference in January 2020.

Photograph: Steve Nesius/Reuters

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